Caracas, April 24, 2017 (venezuelanalysis.com) – Venezuelan opposition supporters took to the streets of Caracas Saturday in a “silent march” for those killed in over three weeks of anti-government protests.
In contrast to last Wednesday and Thursday’s mobilizations that saw violent clashes with authorities as protesters attempted to enter the city center without a permit, Saturday’s march was allowed to reached the headquarters of the country’s Catholic archdiocese in the working class western Caracas neighborhood of La Vega.
Speaking to reporters during the rally, Democratic Action leader Henry Ramos Allup came under fire for suggesting that there would be more “potential” victims over the following days. At the time of writing, 25 people had been killed in the violence since April 6, including at least six at the hands of opposition protesters.
“This is a silent tribute to the fallen, the wounded, the dead, the victims, including the potential and eventual victims that there will surely be in the coming days,” he declared.
On Sunday, Almelina Carrillo died of a fatal cranial injury inflicted by a frozen bottle thrown from a high-rise apartment building in downtown Caracas towards the pro-government march below. On April 19, the 47-year-old nurse was on her way to her afternoon shift when she crossed paths with the Chavista march and was critically injured by the blunt object presumably thrown by an opposition sympathizer.
Venezuela’s Justice Ministry has confirmed that Carrillo died on Sunday, making her the fifth person allegedly killed by anti-government demonstrators since the protests turned violent on April 4. A pro-government demonstrator was later killed by presumed opposition gunfire this April 24 during an attack on a march attended by state government workers. Three police officers have also been indicted and 15 National Guardsmen arrested for the killing of two protesters and one bystander.
Authorities are likewise investigating the deaths of six people under unclear circumstances in the vicinity of the protests. A further nine looters were electrocuted Thursday evening during violent unrest in El Valle, Caracas.
While Saturday’s march was peaceful, the mobilization concluded with renewed focos of anti-government violence.
The Caracas Metro has confirmed that one of its employees was attacked at approximately 4:30 pm on Saturday afternoon by “violent groups” allegedly comprised of opposition supporters returning home following the demonstration.
“In the moment that the [southwestern Caracas] Antímano station was being closed due to nearby vandalism, metro operator Luis Martinez was assaulted by violent groups, causing him acute contusions in his right check, left knee, and right elbow,” stated Caracas Metro Operational Manager Luis Galindo.
Security camera footage shows Martinez being attacked after he closed the entrance to the station by a crowd of white-clad individuals, one of whom appears to punch the metro worker in the face.
Caracas’ upscale municipality of Chacao likewise saw fresh incidents of violence on Saturday afternoon.
Opposition demonstrators once again returned to the Plaza Francia in Altamira, where they erected burning barricades and vandalized the nearby British Tower, which houses the National Institute of Statistics.
Meanwhile on Friday, the Robert Serra House of Youth and Memory in Caracas’ northwestern La Pastora parish was the target of a Molotov bomb attack. The youth center is dedicated to Venezuela’s youngest ever congressman, Robert Serra, and his assistant, Maria Herrera, who were assassinated by alleged paramilitary groups in 2014.
“They want to go against our symbols and everything that we have built under the revolution,” decried the coordinator of the Robert Serra Youth of the Homeland Mission, Mayerling Arias.
The bomb attack is the latest in a series of aggressions against public institutions, state security personnel, as well as private businesses in recent days, including the ransacking of the offices of the national consumer protection watchdog, the killing of a National Guard sergeant by sniper fire, and the besieging of a maternity hospital leading to the evacuation of 54 infants and small children.
Opposition leaders have vowed to continue street protests until the Maduro administration meets all of their demands, including freeing those they term “political prisoners”, allowing humanitarian aid into the country, setting a date for early presidential elections, and “respect for the National Assembly”.
On Monday, the opposition held a “national sit-in” aimed at blocking roads throughout the country in a show of force. However, turnout appeared to be smaller than in previous mobilizations last week.
National Assembly Vice-President Freddy Guevara said Saturday that the goals of the action are to “expose the true face of the dictatorship” and “create ingovernability”.